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Poland - Constitutional & Legal Foundations

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The Polish educational system is currently based mainly on four laws. These are: the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 17 October 1997; The Act of Sections of Governmental Administration of 4 September 1997; The Act of the System of Education of 7 September 1991; and the Education Act of 26 January 1982, as amended on 18 February 2000 (known as the Teachers' Charter).

The Constitution grants parents full rights over their children, and the role of teachers is described as supportive. Article 48, part 1, states that "parents shall have the right to rear their children in accordance with their own convictions. Such upbringing shall respect the degree of maturity of a child as well as his freedom of conscience and belief, and also his convictions." The Constitution, in Article 72, states, "everyone shall have the right to education. Education to 18 years of age shall be compulsory. The manner of fulfillment of schooling obligations shall be specified by statute." According to Section 4 of the same Article, "public authorities shall ensure universal and equal access to education for citizens. To this end, they shall establish and support systems for individual financial and organizational assistance to pupils and students." Article 72 also declares that "the Republic of Poland shall ensure protection of the rights of the child. Everyone shall have the right to demand of organs of public authority that they defend children against violence, cruelty, exploitation, and actions which undermine their moral sense." This protection relates to all state organs, including the Ministry of National Education.

The Act of the Sections of the Government Administration of 4 October 1997, orders in Article 20 that the separate section of administration called "education and rearing" be established and be responsible for "the matters of educating and rearing children and the youth." On 1 January 1999, schools and public educational institutions were turned over to local administration units. Therefore councils are responsible for kindergartens, primary schools, and grammar schools. Districts are responsible for educational institutions of regional character, designated by the Council of Ministers orders, as well as institutions for teachers' development and adult education.

The financing of schools and educational institutions depends on the administrative division. Consequently, all territorial self-government units perform their own educational tasks and finance them. Government subventions, however, constitute a substantial part of their educational budgets.


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